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The Veterinary Carbon Calculator: an exciting tool for #GreenTeamVet

27 Jul 2022 | Gudrun Ravetz

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If you’re working to create a greener veterinary practice, calculating your carbon footprint is a very useful starting point. Chair of Vet Sustain Gudrun Ravetz explains why this is an important first step, and tells us about a brand new veterinary specific carbon calculator set to launch this year which will make the calculations even easier to do.

The veterinary professions are perfectly placed to be advocates and servants of One Health by sitting at the centre of the people, plant, and animal trio. This gives us a privileged position in being able to educate for, and action, positive changes on our own sustainability journey and those of the multiple stakeholders we work with.

At Vet Sustain we are aware that the profession is keen to continue making positive changes but often it can seem hard to know where to start and what tools to use, particularly with the bespoke needs of a veterinary practice.  

A good starting point

Calculating a baseline carbon footprint allows for reduction targets and the ability to track, measure, celebrate and share successful reductions. Knowing and understanding the carbon footprint will help veterinary practice teams action positive changes to their business operations, which will in turn improve their carbon footprint. 

Not only will it show a commitment to sustainability within practice teams but sharing plans for carbon reduction with clients is also a great way to inspire them.  Clients are often keen to understand the environmental impact of the businesses that they use and most importantly to understand the positive changes businesses are making.  Being aware of energy and resource usage and then reducing them may also decrease costs and at the same time can lead to innovative ways of working that can have other positive benefits.

Measuring and understanding the carbon calculation of our workplaces is only one factor in the sustainable journey that the profession is on, but it is a very important starting point.  It allows the team to come together to understand the different areas of the business and how it impacts in terms of carbon output.  Having an accurate and robust carbon calculation can be the framework for the practice’s sustainability plan and can give focus and clarity to actions that can and should be taken.

Our carbon calculator

To help make calculating your carbon footprint as easy as possible,  we at Vet Sustain are producing a carbon calculator. It is designed for veterinary practices, by veterinary organisations, so that practices can get an accurate and meaningful calculation of their carbon footprint.  Furthermore, the profession will be able to use the collective anonymised data generated by the calculator to benchmark, monitor and support progress towards a low-carbon future.

The Veterinary Carbon Calculator, due for launch later this year, has been developed by Vet Sustain in partnership with Investors in the Environment and supported by BVA, BVNA, BSAVA and SPVS.   

The calculator is broken down into various elements of business activity, such as utilities, travel and importantly includes veterinary specific areas including anaesthetic gases and veterinary care waste.

Many practices will not have done a carbon calculation previously and knowing how to do it and what information is needed may be off-putting.  Through the user testing we have identified where extra advice and guidance is needed, and are working to create a host of supporting educational materials to accompany the calculator to help guide and inform users.

Following on from user testing feedback we still have a small amount of work to do, but we hope that The Veterinary Carbon Calculator will be launched in the autumn.  We are aiming to keep the cost as affordable as possible, with BVA, BSAVA, BVNA and SPVS members all benefitting from a discount.  Any profits will go back into providing even more tools and training for the profession to progress its sustainability journey.  We are all excited to be able to launch a tool that is bespoke for the veterinary profession and can help teams come together and continue their sustainability journey.

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